Greetings friends and fam­ily! We have suc­cess­fully made it through 2020 with all its sur­prises and turns.

January be­gan with a bang: Melissa’s brother Michael and his fam­ily moved from California to Mobile! It was a bless­ing to be able to help through the has­sle of mov­ing across the coun­try, find­ing a job, and mov­ing into a new house.

Melissa taught a cook­ing class at our lo­cal home­school co-op from January un­til the March lock­down. It was her first time teach­ing in a for­mal set­ting, but she feels that all things con­sid­ered, she rocked it!

In February, we at­tended a stun­ning per­for­mance of Shen Yun by Chinese ac­ro­bats and dancers. It was a great date night; highly rec­om­mended if they travel to your city.

Shen Yun poster
5,000 Years of Civilization Reborn

When the coro­n­avirus quar­an­tine started in March, Brian switched to work­ing at home full-time. With the in­crease in fam­ily time, we made fruit sushi, held a glow-in-the-dark party for Brian’s birth­day, and made a zom­bie apoc­a­lypse video.

Brian wearing shirt, tie, jacket, and pajama pants
2020 work from home at­tire
Fruit sushi
Fruit sushi

In May, Brian got Lasik, so he has been with­out eye­glasses and con­tacts for the first time in over 20 years!

Also in May, we saw fam­ily for the first time since the March out­break. We rented a four-story man­sion AirBnB with Brian’s mom, most of his sib­lings, and their spouses for a week of bil­liards, swim­ming, movies, board games, and just catch­ing up.

Brian and Matt playing billiards
Billiards at the AirBNB

The first Saturday in June saw the in­au­gu­ra­tion of Koserstag, a fam­ily hol­i­day cel­e­brat­ing us! We de­cided on of­fi­cial food, tra­di­tions, dress, songs, and even art. It eas­ily be­came a fa­vorite hol­i­day, and we can’t wait for it to come again in 2021!

Kosers wearing hats to celebrate Koserstag
Happy Koserstag!

June also fea­tured Lydia’s bal­let recital and a cheese party where we sam­pled over 20 dif­fer­ent cheeses with friends.

Lydia and Amber holding flowers after the ballet recital
Ballet dancers af­ter the recital

Lydia re­quested a tea party for her birth­day in September, at­tended by Amber, cousin Ruth, and friend Livvy. The girls dressed up, ate hors d’oeu­vres, dec­o­rated a cup­cake, and be­haved beau­ti­fully for a per­fect birth­day.

Lydia and friends at the birthday tea party
Lydia cel­e­brates her birth­day with a tea party

September and October brought two fierce hur­ri­canes, but thank­fully we only lost power for a day and in­ter­net for a cou­ple days.

November was full of fam­ily! Melissa’s par­ents, sis­ter Melody, broth­ers Tim and Michael, and their fam­i­lies drove with us to Gatlinburg to spend a week at the Westgate re­sort. While there we en­joyed an in­door wa­ter­park, com­plete with a lazy river, wa­ter­slides, and gi­ant bucket. We rode open-air gon­do­las up to Anakeesta (quite fright­en­ing for par­ents with three young chil­dren) where we ex­pe­ri­enced a two-per­son roller coaster (Lydia and Amber’s first!), climbed rope bridges and tree houses, and saw a black bear for­ag­ing in the dis­tance. Another day, we drove high up into the moun­tains to­ward Clingman’s Dome, hik­ing the last mile or so. It was frigid that day and the path was of­ten steep, but some­how we made it up to the in­cred­i­ble panoramic view at the top, even while push­ing Penny’s stroller. On the last day, we played some mini golf in Pigeon Forge.

Brian and Melissa in an observation tower in the Great Smokey Mountains
Atop Klingman’s Dome in the Great Smokey Mountains

Melissa’s par­ents al­ter­nated stay­ing with us and the Binzels for the re­main­der of their visit. Christmas Day was per­fect—we had a ter­rific break­fast on a beau­ti­fully-laid table, read the Christmas ac­count in the Bible, opened pre­sents, and spent the rest of the day at Michael and Esther’s house play­ing games. The next day, Melissa’s par­ents flew out of New Orleans to re­turn to Honduras, and af­ter drop­ping them off Melissa, Tim, and Michael vis­ited the Lego store.

Lydia, Amber, and Penny dressed in homemade dresses
The girls in their Christmas dresses

Another year brings new ac­com­plish­ments: Lydia can read bet­ter than many ten-year-olds. Amber is speak­ing (mostly) clearly and can jump off the top of the couch. Penny can climb every­where and is sur­pris­ingly good at hide-and-seek.

Lydia in Gatlinburg
Amber in Gatlinburg
Penny with a silly costume

Brian and Melissa each read 100 books and pod­casted about their feat.

Brian with glasses and a long beard

Melissa at­tended a Ladies’ Bible Study dur­ing the first half of the year, and they dis­cussed the book Lies Women Believe” by Nancy Demoss Wolgemuth. She rec­om­mends it for women of all ages. Melissa was also given the op­por­tu­nity to be­gin lead­ing the church chil­dren in choir, and has en­joyed their sweet play­ful­ness and de­sire to learn.

Melissa wearing a bicycle helmet

What a year! God knows where 2021 will lead us, but we know that it’s in His good hands. May the new year be a time when we all grow closer to each other and trust more in God’s sov­er­eignty.

Much love from Brian, Melissa, Lydia, Amber, and Penelope